Stronger From Trying

“Success and failure are both part of life. Both are not permanent.”

Shah Rukh Khan

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We don’t always win, but we can grow stronger from trying. Put that on a bumper sticker and call it a day.

The most difficult part is not letting failure get to you, and failure is soooo great at doing just that and getting in our heads. Here’s a great example: looking for a job.

Have you ever had the soul crushing experience of trying to find a job and yet only getting rejection emails or no responses at all? The problem is we are comparing something personal — our lives and careers — with something that’s also personal but abstracted behind dozens or even hundreds of resume’s to read from mostly complete strangers in the companies inbox. (No wonder word of mouth usually is the method of choice for hiring.) It’s hard not to feel down and low self-worth when day after day you are met with rejection.

And yet failure is part of the process. Rejection is part of creativity. Put yourself and your work out there and eventually it will meet criticism, bad reviews, or worse — silence.

Some critiques are worth listening to. If it pushes us to do better and try harder, then it’s worth the immediate sting. And un-constructive critiques should be thrown out and set on fire.

Inaction from fear doesn’t change anything. Inaction just keeps us exactly where we are — usually somewhere we don’t want to be.

Trying something new each day does. ‘Okay, that photo didn’t work out so well, what can I try next?’.

As long as we keep getting up, we never actually fail. Even going through the worst failure doesn’t stop the world spinning. Another day always comes. Another chance to try again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #714


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Nothing Endures but Change

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward

Unfortunately-fortunately, the change that endures isn’t always the change that we want. Sometimes change means ‘fewer clients’ and periods of financial angst and shower-crying sessions. Sometimes change means some fool not paying attention and slamming into the back of your car while you are running late.

And other times, changes looks like buying a dog, a new season of your favorite show, a new Drake album, dyeing our hair pink or moving to a new city.

Yet, when change enviable knocks on our door, we don’t always know if its good or bad. And as time goes on, change changes on us. (The nerve of it.)

It’s easy to desire change we think benefits us, and hard to accept change we think harms us, but it’s not always so cut and dry.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to turn every negative into a positive. Some moments in our lives really do suck. Health issues that don’t go away… Someone taking advantage of us …
And yet, even when the nonsense stuff happens to us, we still need to find a way to resolve it and move past it.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can do the best we can do to seek the change that creates abundance in our lives, and learn to be steadfast when change pushes us around.

When I think back on my life so far, it’s often the short term, immediate pain, setbacks, failures and negative events that have blossomed into long term benefits and drivers. As painful as they may be in the moment, setbacks can change us for the better if we let them. It wasn’t long into my health and renaissance journey that I injured my neck in a bad way. It wasn’t the start of my health journey, but it was the catalyst that made me seek out health and wellness even more.

Change shows us what we have been neglecting. It shows us what’s important and what matters to us.

An injury that changes your trajectory in life.

A critique that drives you to get better.

A failure that forces you to start over.

I don’t wish ill of anyone, but I do hope you experience wonderful change in your life.

Life without change would become stagnant. Change, even the negative kind, can be a force we can use to create a positive impact on our lives.

“Nothing endures but change.”

Heraclitus

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #713


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Iron Will

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Iron is a malleable metal. It’s not too soft to be directionless and not to ridged to be brittle. But it takes heat to form it into what you need.

I know, it is a very cheesy self-help things to write, but it’s true.

Nobody like to be knocked on their *ss, but everyone loves an underdog.

Resistance is a natural part of reaching for success. Whatever that success is for you, things are going to get in your way.

Bad luck, circumstances, setbacks and failure may not be our fault, or maybe they are, but it doesn’t matter. Either way, they are our responsibility. They are our opportunity to get stronger and more capable.

Difficult moments will try to break you, and they can if you let them turn you ridged and bitter. Anger and resentment held to long seeps into the bones and poisons our capacity to act if we aren’t careful.

However, difficult moments can’t hurt an iron will.

Let the past go. Forget the future for now. Focus on the here and now. Rest. Take a moment. Do what you need to do to reset. Then get up and find a way forward.

But don’t take my word for it. Instead, listen to the insights of all the strong willed people who said it cooler than me:

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

Bruce Lee

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #706


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Don’t Stop

“Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

Leonardo da Vinci

There’s an expression, ‘two steps forward, one step back’, that’s difficult to feel the depths of until you’ve felt the frustration being one step back.

Some days my goals feel like a plane strapped to my shoulders and I’m shoving with all my might to make a few steps forward.

It’s worth asking yourself, when you are metaphorically (or physically) pulling, lifting and otherwise maneuvering a heavy object, whether or not you actually want too in the first place.

Not every goal we have is our own. Some come from our culture, like buying a new car. Some come from our parents or our childhood, like meeting an expectation that they never could themselves. And some even come from other people, who pitch their goals so well you want in too. Not only if these are bad. Inspiration can lead us to new directions and a life we never dreamed of. But we need to make sure it’s something we want for ourselves (and ultimately the world) too.

Pulling a goal is hard; Pulling one you don’t even like is worse. Because what if you succeed and don’t like where you end up?

Pulling a goal that yours though is worth every drop of blood, tears and sweat though.

Any doubt in yourself and you stop moving. Negative thoughts are always try to get in the way. If it’s your goal – truly your goal – then it’s worth it. The only way forward is to not stop. If we stop, we rust. An inch one day. Nothing the next. A slight turn that felt impossible. A step backwards the next. Every effort counts. It all adds up to your story and your impact on my story.

The people who make it furthest in life with their dreams and pursuits are the ones who don’t stop. (Or maybe the ones too dumb to stop. :P)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #705


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Watching the Rain

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Helen Keller

If you don’t mind, I’d like to get uncomfortably vulnerable in this post:

My failures and poor decisions of the past couple years have been weighing on my mind the last few weeks. I’ve been in a discouraging, pitiful headspace. You likely wouldn’t be able to notice if we grabbed some coffee or ran into each other on the street. It’s likely because some of my habits, such as meditation, yoga, walking and writing keep me sane. But I know that I am more stressed and too serious than I normally am. It’s hard to describe. It’s similar to a toothache — you know something’s off, but you are not quite sure what or why.

How do you cope? We all have things we are going through, and we all have coping mechanisms which help us emotionally deal with them in the short term. Coping mechanisms come in all shapes and sizes, and they are usually hidden in plain sight. Worry, reclusiveness, silence… even anger can help us deal with life. Sometimes they might even be good things, like health and exercise, just taken to an borderline abusive extreme.

We may not consider anger a coping mechanism, but it’s an excellent emotion that can forcefully moves things forward… for better or worse. There’s a lot of Type A people out in the world who use anger to create success — and usually burn bridges and raise their blood pressure and self-loathing in the process. I know many people like this. They brute force their way towards what they want and burn themselves out in the process.

My coping method, on the other hand, tends to be numbing myself out. When things get extremely difficult, my mind falls into a black hole space-time reality. It’s an unfortunate after-effect I picked up after badly injuring my neck over 5 years ago. Numbing myself doesn’t require any substance to start, my mind provides all the chemicals required to get it going.

I used to hate the fact that my mind would numb myself out (…if that makes sense). In the past, I’ve been envious of the people who can face setbacks or misfortunes and use anger to defy them. But I don’t feel this way anymore. We all deal with trauma and misfortune some point in our lives. Sometimes that requires different coping mechanisms to make it through.

The key is appreciating (even being grateful for ) what has helped you to get where you are, and becoming aware of when an emotion, habit or coping method isn’t working for you anymore and finding a healthy alternative. Numbing myself helped me get through the pain of my injury, but I have no use for it anymore.

Suffering and pain reminds me of rain.

Rain comes and goes. Sometimes it’s torrential rain that almost picks us off our feet and whips us around. Other times its light and distant. But it always clears eventually. (Even Seattle gets a few days off. 🙂 If we can learn to watch for the signs of rain on the horizon, then we can preemptively give ourselves what we need to prepare for it.

My goal is not to stop it from raining, but to appreciate it while it’s here (and maybe even learn to enjoy it). Because there’s grow in rain. There’s lessons to be learned. We can connect more deeply with others by experiencing rain.

Here are a few insights I remind myself when it starts to rain:

Focus on Opportunity Instead of Negativity

It’s so easy for to make ourselves feel stuck by focusing only on the problems in our lives. But, for every problem there’s an opportunity we could be putting our energy into instead. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Focus on the good versus the negative.

Focus on Possibility

Every great story, be it fiction or real, has its ups and downs, trials and triumphs. Each problem and setback we face becomes a part of our own story. Use it. Build deeper connections by sharing your story. We want to be the big hero, but if we have to be the underdog, or the friendly neighborhood hero, then so be it! Every disadvantage is actually an advantage in disguise.

And Give Yourself as Much Self-Care as Possible.

We usually know what we really need when we need it. We’re usually just too stubborn to allow ourselves to have it. When I say self care, I’m not talking about treating yo’ self to a new pair of shoes, inhaling a bucket of ice cream or any of the other bad habits we lean on when we are feeling low. Self-care is giving yourself solitude and when you need space, or reaching out to friends when you need community. It’s giving therapy a go. It’s taking breaks from work when you feel overworked. It’s prioritizing things that don’t feel like an obligation or things that don’t have a deadline attacked to them. Self-care is giving yourself the health, happiness, connection and meaning you’ve been missing or neglecting.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #703


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Why Failure is (Mostly) Good

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

Johnny Cash

Let’s be honest — failure sucks. Most of us would rather eat our right pinky finger than fail.

But failure is also good because it teach us (the hard way) to grow. Everyone loves a good failure to success story, where our hero hits rock bottom and a few montage scenes later finds his or her way back from defeat. But for every success story, how many untold stories of people who failed, hit rock bottom and gave up?

The worst part about failure is that giving up is always on the table. In fact, giving up is the easiest choice. Giving up requires nothing from us. But giving up gives us nothing in return. We love success stories because we see ourselves as the hero in our own story that overcomes adversity and failure. The goal isn’t to fail, but to learn to succeed after we fail.

“Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

Failure is our chance to learn something we didn’t know (our something we were neglecting) and get back up.

Sometimes that requires us to take a break and rest.
— or go back to the drawing board.
— or change our perspective or how we think.
— or become less ego-driven.
— or realign our priorities and/or expectations.

And whatever else we need to do to reset ourselves, find resolve to move forward, and work up the nerve to try again.

Because we know we can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #695


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Thinking Outside the Box

“At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

“Named must be your fear before banish it you can.”

Yoda

The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. The first rule of thinking outside the box is recognizing that you are in a box.

But what is a box? (Is it slang for boxers underwear? ‘Yo, are you a box guy or a briefs guy’.)

When we give in to fear, doubt and uncertainty — that’s a box.
When we listen to others ideas for how we should live our lives, instead of listening to our own hearts — that’s also a box.
When we let our friends, peers, community and even family influence us to live and act a certain way. — that’s a big box. (Is this starting to sound like a Jeff Foxworthy redneck joke? ‘You might be a redneck if your bicycle has a gun rack’.)

The box is normal. It’s the standard deviation of how ‘they’ say we should live our lives.
Sometimes other people try to put us in a box, and sometimes we put ourselves in a box. There are different boxes, for different folks. They come in various shapes and sizes, and are made of different materials, but they generally serve the same purpose: to keep us right were we are in life.

Boxes aren’t always bad. Some boxes are safe and comfortable. Some boxes influence us in positive ways. But in order to create, grow, change, add value to our lives and pursue our dreams, we’ve gotta step out of the box we are in. All the fresh air and good ideas are outside of our cardboard walls.

When you find yourself with a need to change, there’s two great ways you can start:

1. Act.

Action breeds momentum, and momentum drives change. Even the smallest of acts done consistently quickly gains traction and drives growth over time. Compound interest isn’t just for money — it can also be applied to any goal we want to pursue or skill we want to master.

2. Surround yourself with people and ideas that are outside of your box.

If you want to be an artist, surround yourself with other artist who are also ambitiously seeking to improve and create. If you want to be an entrepreneur, surround yourself with people who think differently and see opportunities everywhere. Surround yourself with friends who want you to succeed and want to get better themselves. And surround yourself with books, ideas, and creative work that inspires you to see the world differently and do what most only dream about doing.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #685

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How to DO

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

Leonardo da Vinci

“Just do it” is a pithy phrase that cuts through the heart of fear and asks us to act on our ideas and dreams… But often, no matter how many times we tell ourselves (or someone tells us) to just do it — we don’t. We want to, but we don’t. I could tell a family member (or myself) to just do it and eat healthier and exercise, but that’s not gonna cut it. As catchy and tagline worth as it is, it leaves room for uncertainty, ambiguity and fear. How do we do it? Where do we start? How do we not fail? How do we do it and win?

“Just do it” is a spiritual mantra of Athletes everywhere in the world. But do you think they make it to the Olympics or to the finals by winging it? No, they have honed their minds and bodies to do perform on instinct.

Before we can do, we need to make it clear as crystal what we are specifically going to do, why and how.

Clarity of thought creates clarity of action.

For example: “I want to get up early” is not going to work. How early? Why do you want to get up early, specifically? What’s the driving motivation behind the desire?

When it comes to getting up early, if you are focusing just on the morning, you’ve already lost. The question isn’t ‘What time will I get up?’ The question is ‘what time do I go to bed?’. We need to start where all the trouble begins — going to bed early. Going to bed at 2 AM and trying to wake up at 5 AM is not a sustainable and realistic goal. Sure, you could do it for a while. But there’s no wiggle room.Why do you want to get up early? So you can have some alone time for yourself. So you can read more and work on developing your writing skills. So you can work on your side business. Whatever your drive is, make it specific. It needs to be a big enough reason for you to get up out of a warm cushy marshmellow-of-a-bed every morning.

Here’s another example: “I want to be healthy.” Too vague. Too open to interpretation and bending the rules. What does healthy mean to you? Does it mean having a huge amount of energy each day? Does it mean being able to run the city and not get winded? Why do you want to get healthy? So you live longer and brighter and decrease your chances of Alzheimer’s or Cancer? What does health look like, specifically? Eating mostly plants? Nothing out of a box? Cooking at home instead of only eating out? Whatever it is, make it clear.

Once you have a firm grasp on what exactly you are wanting to cultivate in your life, then you are ready for taking a chance and just do it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #670

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Comfort Zone Gaps

Comfort is not necessary a bad thing, but if it makes you feel complacent or stuck then your comfort is getting in your way of living a meaningful life.

Think of comfort zones as concentric circles like a dartboard, with you standing comfortably in the middle on the bullseye and larger circles of discomfort expanding out around you.

We don’t really want to leap for the outer circle immediately. We could try, but the problem is most of the time we won’t. The outer circle is terrifying when you are safe and stable in the middle. You might hate where you, but you’re sure as heck not about to go out there. When faced with an overwhelming amount of fear and uncertainty most of us (if not all) who are not trained do nothing. Even if that uncertain situation is something we want to do and even dream about doing. The gap is too far away.

Jumping straight into your discomfort zone is like trying to give a speech in front of a large crowd without any morsel of preparations or practice — palm-sweating and almost assured you’ll choke.

The better approach to getting out of your knitted-sweater of a comfort zone is to take it one circle at a time. What’s something you can do that puts your foot in the water? What path can you create with milestones along the way to achieving your goal? How can you use fear to your advantage?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #668

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The Gift of Pain

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Helen Keller

The earth continuously spins at a lazy one thousand miles per hour. Roughly every 24 hours, it completes its race and begins a new – the ultimate example that shows steady and slow wins the race.

Is it because of death we feel compelled to hurry up and get things over with? Life is short for each of us. Time ticks on, whether we are working on our dreams or not. Perhaps our patience is at its thinnest when we faced with pain, dislike and fear.

I don’t know a single person who enjoys spending time in wall to wall traffic. But there’s also those of us who, when faced with an uncomfortable reality, want nothing more than to move past it. Like swatting flies out of our food, we want nothing more than to get rid of our circumstances and setbacks.

“Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.”

Aristotle

It depends on how you look at it, but setbacks and pain can be gifts if you let it. As sucky as they are, our circumstances are teaching us hidden lessons on how to live better if we let them. Nobody wants to be in debt up to their noses. Nobody wants to feel the pain of a heartbreak or the ache of an injury. Depression, anxiety, negativity, bitterness, backstabbing, fear, and discouragement aren’t exactly a fun party to be in.

I’d hate to say that setbacks and pain are trying to teach us something important, but maybe they are trying to teach us something important.

Pain, failure and bad circumstances raise our awareness and show us how to live better than we were previously. They stop us, so that we can slow down, think more wisely and go after a life of meaning.

We might have to dig ourselves out of a hole now, but when (not if, when) we finally crawl over the top, we have a new and better way to live and a story to tell.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #648

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